Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Scraps of Information/Awkward Silence

You'll have to forgive me if this evening's post is a little bit hard to follow. If my words are jumbled or simply chosen poorly, the reason is simply because, I lack a great deal of sleep. Tonight is another one of those nights where I have to cram two topics into one post, both topics are equally relevant, though one is far more personal, and the other far more broad.

So I'm going to start this evening, with the broad topic, a bit of research I had not yet come across, since I have not been doing a great deal of research on transsexuality since a few years back. When I say research, please understand I mean the kind of research you do for a paper, as I basically just collect the little scraps and pieces of data that are available to the public, and take from them what I can.

Needless to say, having a lot of stake in the matter, It is functionally impossible for me to look at this data with no bias whatsoever. That said, I can still make an effort to try to see the data without bias. So I looked carefully at this data, and saw that, according to this study the transsexuals, had similar brain functions and shape to their non-transsexual, peers, and not afterward. Hormones change your brain.

A lot of this data can easily be misconstrued as saying, "this proves that transsexuality is an invention of the brain" or "this proves transsexuality has no biological cause" when in fact it does neither of these. All this study shows is that your brain changes. Even the study itself, or at least this article concludes, "the finding suggest that, throughout life, gonadal hormones remain essential for maintaining aspects of sex specific differences in the human brain."

This article was given to me under the notion "It was once believed that there are biological causes for gender dysphoria, and those causes have since been disproved." Despite this horrendously presumptuous take on what is really, a very small and limited amount of information, I actually think this study says some positive things for us.

I for one, used to worry if I didn't behave exactly like a biological girl, in every fine detail. I would analyze my every thought, every movement, every desire. I would think to the point of self torment, on whether or not I qualified as a true transsexual. Finding this information out, is in fact, a massive relief. What this really tells us, is "don't sweat the small stuff." The core of "I" has not changed since I began my transition, but I've noticed little by little my more shallow thought processes have changed, and my behavior has become more and more that of a normal woman. I find less useless things happening in my mind that used to disturb me. I find I control my sexuality, rather than it controlling me. I find I have a better span of attention for my appearance. I find my brain seems to function more like it feels it SHOULD. Meanwhile my beliefs, ideals, spirituality (though I'm growing a lot in this area) likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies have not changed. I'm still me, so the changes that happen in the brain, are most likely very superficial.

I have more to say about the debate I was having on transsexuality, and about an argument I had regarding "correcting" gender dysphoria, rather than transitioning. I will not take womanhood as a last resort treatment for my illness. I AM a woman, its not an illness. More on this on another post.

So with no real segway available, I come to my second topic for this evening. Thanksgiving. I'm currently typing this on my mom's laptop, dressed as a boy for the second time in two weeks. It is the day after thanksgiving though I began this post yesterday.

For days I toiled over whether or not to remove my nail polish. I decided my family has given me a bit of understanding, and though its been a slow painful process for them, they've moved, at least a little, in their acceptance of me. Most of my fellows at the transgender support group at the clinic, told me to leave the purple nail polish on. Only my lesbian friend from china, who is more understanding of matters with family and confinement to their needs, told me I should compromise and change it to black, which is what I ultimately decided to do, a color that has seen more androgynous use than purple on people's nails. In addition to that, I have been wearing my hair in a more feminine style, and I've been working on how I walk. I spent most of thanksgiving day trying to correct my walking when really I probably walk more like a girl than I used to when I don't think about it at all, but I'm moving away from the topic at hand here.

I was concerned that if I let my gender identity be too noticeable, it will cause drama at the dinner table. They will assault me with accusations. My grandmother's declining health will be blamed on me and so will her death from shock of my transition. Worse, my little cousin, who since being old enough to speak, has exclaimed "I'm a boy" and is probably a female to male. No doubt if this is the case, his transition will be blamed on my corrupting influence.

None of these things happened. My mom laughed a little and asked what did I do to my nails. My grandpa made a comment about my black nails the week before. That's it. But its the silence that hurts more than anything. Why wouldn't my childish uncle make an outburst remark. Why wouldn't they approach me and ask me questions about my transition, or about how I feel? Why wouldn't for the most part, they even comment on my nails. Everything was the same. The same he's and hims. The same "Justin" instead of calling me by my name, Sara, which I will make my legitimate name soon. Nothing. Everything was as it was, only I was a little softer. My grandma said I looked pale, and other than that nobody seemed to notice my physical changes... or they pretended not to.

Why couldn't the approach me and ask me of my transition? Why couldn't my childish uncle have misbehaved, had an outburst, made some snarky remark or asked a personal question. Why couldn't any of them have approached me and asked me something personal? What, dear family, are your thoughts, do you have goals and motives? Are you still shocked. Who am I to you?

The silence hurts so much more than rude words ever could. Why can't they talk to me about it? I shall push the envelope until I probe some small response of acknowledgement of my transition. Next time a bracelet, if no remarks occur, I'll wear my girl jeans. If more remarks occur, I'll wear my other bracelet, the one with the ribbon on it, I guess. I'll do something to move in them, some manner of response or acknowledgement.

Should I?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The scattered mists of womanhood

Today I spoke with my grandfather, it never ceases to amaze me how iron-willed and open minded he is, despite the fact that for almost two years my mother FORBADE me to tell him of my transsexual status, and my plans of transitioning from male to female. She swore he'd have a heart attack and die. Natural causes were the most condemning threat my parents used on me for the longest time. If I should shave my legs or wear a dress, my parents bodies would give way to the shock and stress, and pass away. Far be it for me to begin hormone treatment, and change my name. Charged with the guilt of my mother's murder how could I transition in comfort, but as you can see, my family is still there. I do worry for my elderly grandmother though.

He told me every time he comes to see me, grandma asks if I look different when he comes home, and he tells her I look the same, and he doesn't know what exactly I'm doing. Ouch, do I really look exactly the same? My body is changed so much, and my face is so soft compared to the Carpathian mountains I had for a jaw when I started, heavily forested and all. I do wear baggy clothes though, when I see my family, so as to make things easier on them.

I didn't want to tell him that I dress as a girl now, that I fear for my life taking the train at night, but somehow the conversation, and all the wonderful and terrifying truths came out. His main concern is for my safety, that is, that people do not lash out with physical violence. My concern is also this. I can get used to dirty looks and cruel remarks, but if someone shoots me in the face what am I gonna say to that?

Where the hell is the balance, between dressing in a way that brings me a sense of identity, and dressing in a way that provokes disaster, or does such a thing even exist. I don't wear dresses yet, and I don't really wear my skirt that often. I started painting my nails and stuff, I haven't gotten on to make-up for the simple issue of I have no idea how to apply makeup without making myself look like a clown. I've never done it before. The dirty looks have started up as expected, but what do I do?

I came home and took my baggy shirt off, my tight tank top underneath, in my opinion far more flattering, but apparently I'm too fat for something that shows a lil of my tummy, so I'll only wear it as an under...thing. So says my roommate and her mother anyways. After talking a bit with my friend, she told me that she was talking with her friend, about my apparently, ape-like posture and mannerisms. I didn't know it was that bad... apparently she did a walk like me in front of her friend, and her friend laughed and said "that's just mean." I really didn't realize I was quite this bad. I know I need work but geeze.

So after this I received a bit of coaching on walking and standing more like a girl, and I tried as best as I can to correct my ape-like posture and walk. Another description I heard tonight was "bull-dyke" I think that's a bit of an improvement to "ape-like" since most butch chicks I know, are far more civilized than apes. She told me to stand with one leg straight and that hip up, and the other leg at an angle. I see girls standing like that alot, but it seems an exaggeration to stand like that ALL the time. I guess I'm one big walking social faux-pas, no wonder people stare at me, as though I were the Frankenstein monster.

Later however she told me something chillingly painful. She said that in discussion of me, her and her friend said my aura was androgynous, neither male nor female. Consider me what you will, in believing in auras and such things, but this roommate, friend of mine, for all her flaws, is someone I trust implicitly for council on all things regarding the spirit. If she told me that, there is no doubt in my mind that it must be the truth.

So why the hell does knowing that, though I believe I already knew it, hurt so much. I'm not having second thoughts about transitioning. I'm not regretting what I've become. I'm not considering transitioning back into a man, the thought seems absolutely abominable. I know I'm not the very model of a typical feminine woman, particularly in the unforgiving world of transsexual stereotypes... but I always believed myself to be a woman nonetheless.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Slowly Staggers November, in Swiftness Came December.

The previous slowly trudged forth, as if caught in a marsh. October, and the months before as my transition slowly happened beneath my clothes, seemed like years unto themselves. It happened a few times in October, I'd have just shaved the tattered remains of my beard, and I'd go out as Sara, with a group of friends, and feel painfully self conscious as people stared at me.

I've become either brave or exceptionally foolish, as when after a week or so from the second laser treatment, more of my beard fell out in clumps, and a few days before that, my skin texture changed dramatically, and I purchased an article of woman's clothing, (a simple fitted "baby doll" t-shirt, rather than the lose baggy ones I have accumulated over the miserable years as a man,) and urging to wear it, I changed and felt comfortable in the rather bohemian, glbt friendly environment of the local coffee shop. Amassing my strength I wore my most feminine top on the bus and on the train to my volunteer work the next day. The stares and cruel glances are hard to get over, and I brought with me a cane, ordinarily for walking, which I could use to defend myself, though hopefully I will not have to. I should probably bring something more concealed, something about it is somewhat empowering. I should at least get one more personal, such as having colors of purple and black, maybe flowers if its not too frilly, not that I mind frilly stuff, but I'm tremendously picky about frills.

I do not pass. I do not know if I will ever have the luxury of passing. And so, the stares will continue, and although I'm trying to hold on to the warmth within, and remain a creature that has feelings, the more often I receive these stares, and dirty looks, the less I am bothered by them, and that comes at a high price. I feel my heart becoming cold, and I start to look at the cisgendered masses through a jaded, disgusted eye. I learn to appreciate more fully, those who smile back at me, and greet me with kindness, as wearing a friendly face on the outside, for the time being, is still not entirely difficult.

At this point anonymity is getting a little bit pointless. My name is Sara Ross, though I'm still working on getting the first name changed officially. My family is at least trying to accept me, so I will not change my last name. I do not want a masculine middle name, so I guess I'll change it from Marquez to Marquilla... the closest Hispanic feminine name I could find. I haven't told my family about the name change, and the middle name in particular, they do not know of at all.

So its here today. Day of Remembrance. Last year, I do not remember why I did not post. This year I had to combine it with a personal post, if nothing else because I needed to explain why it weighs so much more heavily on my mind. I'm suddenly a candidate for next years list, impassible, transsexual, maybe I'm being paranoid but I'm terrified for my life.

I'm still here...

I'm really lucky when I think about the fact that 1 in 12 transgendered folk, are murdered of hate crimes, or otherwise discriminated against in ways that cost their lives. For many of us transitioning is difficult, because of expensive doctors, or loads of processes to go through, or family situations, and so many of us simply resolve the matter with suicide. Having been in that place of despair, I know what it was like, and knowing that, cruel stares and watching over my shoulder, are by far a lesser sentence for whatever crime I must have committed, than the hopeless life I had as a boy.

Kellie Telesford, in Thornton Heath UK

Was strangled to death with a scarf on November 21'st 2007. That's the day after day of remembrance, last year. Her killer, said he discovered she had a penis. That seemed to be motivation enough for him.

Brian McGlothin in Cincinnati Ohio
Was Shot by an automatic rifle in the head, He was only 25 years old, two years older than me, the same age as my roommate's boyfriend. The note says he liked to wear women's clothes, heaven forbid. We'll never know whether it was simply his taste in clothes, or if it was something deeper. We'll never know anything because this person's life was cut short.

Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz, Santiago Chile.
in Santiago Chile, Was attacked and stabbed on December 28th 2007. Three days after Christmas. This is all the information given about the person.

Patrick Murphy 39, In Albuquerque New Mexico was found in women's clothes, shot several times in the head, on January 8th 2008. Again very little information was given about the person here.

Stacy Brown, in Baltimore, MD, Was was also found shot in the head on January 8th, the same day as Patrick Murphy, and was 30 years old.

Adolphus Simmons in Charleston, SC was shot to death at the age of 18, later in the month, on January 21st, 2008

Fedra, a known Transvestite in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia was found lying face up in a pool of blood, and we know nothing about the cause of death. The was the next day on January 22nd, 2008. As I go through the list it's difficult not to become desensitized to all of this, by I refuse to see these people as just names on a list.

Ashley Sweeney, Detroit Michigan, was shot in the head on the 4th of February. It says that her age is unknown, and that she is only identified as a transgender young woman, in this press release.

Sanesha (Talib) Stewart (name in parenthesis?, if its her middle name why put parenthesis, if its her guy name why include it?, well that's what the source says, I'll link it at the end of this list)
Sanesha Stewart was stabbed to death in the Bronx, in new york on February 10th, 2008. That's my grandma's birthday, which is a day after mine. She was 25 years old.

Lawrence King, age 15, in Oxnard California, the state where I live, was shot to death by a classmate because he liked to wear women's clothing. Do you think society will reach a place where this crime, is not punishable by death? Clothing is clothing, and the idea that we must confine ourselves to our "correct" gender, makes transitioning all the more difficult. If you're not one of my regular readers, and your the type that snubs a kid for wearing makeup or tight pants, or even going all the way, Could you, please stop yourself and think, why does this unsettle me, and who is really the one with the problem. The boy in girl's clothing has done nothing to you.

Simmie Williams Jr. in Fort Lauterdale Florida, was found shot to death wearing women's clothing, at age 17. On February 22nd, 2008.

Luna, who was not reported having any last name, in Lisbon Portugal was brutally beaten to death and tossed into a dumpster. The thought of this one makes me shudder, the symbolism of the dumpster, is that this person was no less than garbage to the perpetrator. When I was young my cousin put me in a garbage can and sat on the lid and he thought it was funny. I guess what I'm saying is that this cruelty is there inside all of us. Human beings are not garbage. I hope whoever did this didn't think it was funny... This happened march 15 2008. It hurts to know that one of my favorite artists in the music world is from this same city. Hopefully, not of the same mentality.

Lloyd Nixon, 45, in West Palm Beach, Florida, was repeatedly beat in the head with a brick. That says more than anything I can add. April 16 2008.

Felicia Melton-Smyth was brutally stabbed to death in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Her murderer claimed his reasoning to be "that she would not pay for sex" She was a vacationing HIV activist from Wisconsin, where my roommate's boyfriend lives. May 26th, 2008, this is just before I moved out to my current location.

Silvana Berisha, Hamburg Germany, was stabbed to death. Judging from the picture and first name, this person was probably early in their transition, and will never get to experience the freedom I have barely tasted. This happened June 24th, 2008. I had just begun my hormone treatment a week prior.

Ebony Whitaker
Memphis Tennessee, was shot July 1st, 2008, at the age of 20.

Rosa Pazos, in Sevilla Spain, was found in her apartment, having been stabbed in the throat. One of my best online friends lives in Spain, though in a different area. This happened July 11 2008.

Juan Carlos Aucalle Coronel,
Lombardi Italy was severely beaten, found with several skull fractures, BEFORE being run over by a car. This was on July 14 2008. He was 35 years old. Probably a female to male given the name, though I've no further info at this time, it's fair enough to surmise that such atrocities do not only happen to male to female transsexuals, and cross dressers, etc.

Angie Zapata, in Greely, Colorado, Was found in her home, with fractures in her skull. She was murdered at the age of 18. It says her murderer was 31 years old, I will not bother with his name. July 17 2008.

On the same day of July 17 2008, in Makiki Honolulu, Hawaii Jaylynn L. Namauu, was stabbed to death. She was 35 years old. So much for paradise.

Samantha Rangel Brandau, in Milan Italy, again where one of my favorite bands is from, was gang raped, and stabbed numerous times. She was left for dead, and probably died alone, bleeding, and defiled by her attackers. I'm not sure what is worse, to die alone or in the presence of your murderer.

Nahkia (Nikki) Williams of Louisville, Kentucky was found shot, near the dumpster next to her home, on the 20th of August, this year. She was 29 years old.

Ruby Molina, in Sacramento, a major city here in Southern California, was drowned on September 21st, 2008. Her naked body was found floating in the American river, just 22 years old.

Aimee Wilcoxson, Aurora Colorado was found dead in her bed on November 3rd. The police have not specified the cause. I was receiving laser hair removal on that day, so I remember it well.

Duanna Johnson, Memphis Tennessee was shot, found dead in the middle of the street. 42 years old. I was at my parent's house on this day November 9th, 2008.

Dilek Ince, Ankara Turkey, was shot in the back of the head, on November 11th, 2008. With no knowledge or understanding of modern day turkey, or really of their culture at all, I've no idea what this person's struggle was like. I was returning home from mom's house that day.

Teish (moses) Cannon was shot at the age of 22 in Syracuse New York. November 14th 2008. Considering the number that have been added for this month, in comparison with the rest of the year, These probably only a tiny fragment of the hate crime victims for 2008. Indeed a number of these probably go unreported, unnoticed, forgotten by all but those who care to look.

Ali and two other women in Iraq, were executed for being transgender, this year, unknown month, day and time. I will post their names when I get the information, if I ever do.

This is the list where I got the information from
. I did not copy paste, I went through every name, and read every location and date. The reason I added comments reflecting my own personal life, is to make each one more of a person. Comments about friends, family, even favorite bands, these were not intended to be cruel or uncaring, rather I wanted to make the point that it is a small world, and we all share in it. I hope you, the reader, please understand and excuse my strange style of reporting. Please inform me of any errors in the person's proper gender, as some of the original information was uncertain. I also regret missing any names not covered in this list.

Keith Olbermann will probably not be making one of his special comments tonight, as he did beautifully expressing his frustration at the passing of proposition 8, here in California. These names will not be read to you on the national news. They will not even, it seems, be read on KPFK here in California. These human beings do not deserve to be forgotten.

Kellie, Brian, Gabriela, Patrick, Stacy, Adolphus, Fedra, Ashley, Sanesha, Lawrence, Simmie, Luna, Lloyd, Ali and companions, Felicia, Silvana, Ebony, Rosa, Juan Carlos, Angie, Jaylynn, Samantha, Nikki, Ruby, Teish, Dilek, Duanna, Aimee, and all those who's names aren't listen here, Godspeed to wherever you are going. Please find yourselves a better place.

I am not Martin Luther King, I do not possess the sheer strength of will, the amazing, almost superhuman, self-sacrificing vitality, to speak out, at the cost of my own safety, much less my life. I am neither Nelson Mandela nor Malcom X. I am not a person of historic strength in times of cruelty.
After reading and typing up this list, I do not know, from where inside me I'll ever get the strength to dress up as a girl again. I do not know how I'll face the frozen desert of human emotions, that is, outside the safety of my home. But I guess I'm not stopping now, I'm not waiting for some magic point in my transition, I'm not gonna give up being myself because I do not have the right look, to pass for a "real" girl.

So pull your children away from this abomination that I am, if you must, though I would never bring harm to them. shake your head and roll your eyes, avoid me like a bearer of plagues. Call me names and do what you will to lessen the temperature of my heart. As a young transsexual woman, I beg you on my behalf and on the behalf of all my kind, let me keep my life, my dignity and my freedom. Let me walk the streets and keep to myself, when there is somewhere I need to be. If you are reading this and find me disgusting, immoral, degenerative, please, I am not here to create cesspools of sexual deviance, I am not here to do anything to you, that would compromise you, or your security. I just want to live my life, the way I feel is the only way true to my heart. I implore you to simply let me live, and I ask this on behalf of all transsexual and transgendered men and women.

There is so much more I want to say. For those of you with daughters and sons who are transgendered, for those in countries where we are seen as monsters like in Iraq... please just give us the freedom to be ourselves.